Decision 2014

Davis Demands Investigation into Abbott’s Role in the Texas Enterprise Fund

Sen. Wendy Davis is calling for an independent investigation into Attorney General Greg Abbott’s role in the Texas Enterprise Fund. The call comes on the heels of a scathing audit that revealed more more than $170 million was awarded to businesses that never submitted an application.

The Davis campaign is accusing Abbott of using his office to cover up the transition of the funds by hiding documents and denying open records requests that would have proven Abbott knew the applications never existed.

“Greg Abbott has been Attorney General throughout the entire existence of the Enterprise Fund, and he was responsible for acting as its watchdog, monitoring its accounts and recovering misspent money,” Davis said. “For that entire time, Mr. Abbott did not recover one dime of taxpayer dollars for the Enterprise Fund.”

Davis is also demanding that Abbott return the $1.4 million in campaign contributions he received from grant recipients.

According to the Dallas Morning News, the Attorney General’s office maintains Abbott was following state law because releasing confidential applications could put companies at a competitive disadvantage.

Abbott Releases First Attack Ad

Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott is attacking Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis’ ethics in the Senate in a new television ad. The ad renews accusations from the Abbott campaign that Davis abused her position in the Senate to profit in the private sector. Abbott also alleges that Davis’ legal work is subject to an open investigation by the FBI.

The Davis campaign was quick to respond, calling the ad a ‘desperate attack.’ 

“It is the clearest sign yet that Greg Abbott’s lead is steadily eroding and that they are forced to distract from his unethical record, such as using his office to side against patients maimed and killed by a sadistic surgeon after accepting $250,000 from the hospital’s chairman,” said spokesman Zac Petkanas. That claim was the subject of Davis’ most recent TV ad.

The campaign also points to a PolitiFact Texas finding that rated Abbott’s claim that Davis is currently under investigation by the FBI ‘False.’

New Abbott Ad Highlights Values, Davis Attacks Abbott Again

If this week is any indication, the airwaves will be flooded with ads for the governor’s race leading up to election day. Democrat Wendy Davis and Republican Greg Abbott again released new TV ads, Wednesday.

Attorney General Greg Abbott’s new ad features actor Eduardo Verástegui, who touts Abbott’s faith and values. As with his previous TV spots, the ad makes no mention of Wendy Davis.

Davis’ latest spot, meanwhile, is another attack on Abbott’s actions as Attorney General. This time, she is criticizing Abbott for the role he played in a hospital lawsuit filed by victims of a Plano surgeon accused of operating under the influence of drugs. On Monday, Davis released a similar ad accusing Abbott of refusing to intervene in a sex abuse investigation in West Texas.

Abbott, Davis Release New TV Ads

Democrat Wendy Davis hit Republican Greg Abbott with another attack ad, Monday. This time, Davis is accusing Abbott of failing to investigate reports of sexual abuse at a state run school overseen by the Texas Youth Commission.

According to the ad, the Texas Rangers requested that the Attorney General’s office intervene in the investigation into reports that administrators at the school were sexually abusing young boys. The ad insinuates that Abbott refused to get involved because he was covering up for the TYC.

According to the Abbott campaign, the Attorney General’s office could not legally intervene in the case unless the local district attorney made the request, which did not happen until a year later. 

“Sen. Davis can distort the facts in her ads, but no amount of distortion can cover her despicable practice of repeatedly using public office to personally profit,” said Communications Director Matt Hirsh. “We now know that before she was lining her pockets at the taxpayers’ expense as a state senator, Sen. Davis was voting to steer millions of dollars in taxpayer funds to clients of her title company as a Fort Worth City Council member.” 

This is Davis’ second attack of this nature. Davis’ first TV ad attacked Abbott over his ruling in a 1998 case involving a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman who raped a woman in her home.

Abbott, meanwhile, released his own TV ad, Monday. The straightforward, 30-second spot touts Texas’ economy and business-friendly environment.

Capital Tonight: Senate’s New Look to Come With New Political Challenges

Workers at the Capital are busy giving the Senate a new look, and with it comes a new crop of lawmakers and possibly a new way of doing business. In Friday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at the changes being made to the chamber, just as Texans wait to see how the leadership will soon change over on that side of the pink dome. 

REPORTER ROUNDTABLE

The debate over debates has turned into a battle over a book tour. Reporters Jay Root of the Texas Tribune and Christy Hoppe of The Dallas Morning News weighed in on the latest back-and-forth between the Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis teams over whether Senator Davis’s book promotion is breaking election law. 

COMEDY AND THE CONSTITUTION

Could a proposed amendment really land Saturday Night Live leadership in jail? Gardner Selby of PolitiFact Texas took a closer look at Sen. Ted Cruz’s latest claim.

Capital Tonight: Governor’s Race Gets More Personal

A new autobiography dives deeper than ever into Wendy Davis’s personal life, while her opponent Greg Abbott questions whether her promotion of it is breaking campaign finance laws.

In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we check in on the balance between personal and political in the governor’s race.

ON THE AGENDA

Gov. Rick Perry is talking economics in Asia, while his legal team takes another swing at trying to quash the felony counts against him. The Quorum Report’s Harvey Kronberg joined us to weigh in on both stories.

‘RACE FOR THE FUTURE’

Hispanic voters are being courted more than ever by the Republican party. Can they reverse decades of Democratic support? Mike Gonzalez of the Heritage Foundation talked about his new book, “A Race for the Future: How Conservatives Can Break the Liberal Monopoly on Hispanic Americans.”

Abbott Campaign Questions Legality of Davis Book Tour

Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott is questioning the legality of Democrat Wendy Davis’ upcoming book tour. Davis memoir, ‘Forgetting to be Afraid,’ goes on sale Tuesday. Davis has book signings scheduled across the state this week.

Abbott’s campaign manager Wayne Hamilton is requesting an opinion from the Texas Ethic Commission about campaign finance laws in connection to the tour. In a letter sent Monday morning, Hamilton raises several questions- including whether or not Davis’ publisher should be allowed to pay for the tour and other promotional events. Under Texas law, corporations are prohibited from contributing to political campaigns.

The letter reads, in part, “The goal of this advertising is nearly identical to the goal of advertising done by the candidate’s campaign; that is, to raise the candidate’s name identification, increase the public’s opinion of the candidate, and otherwise promote the candidate to the public.”

The Davis campaign maintains that the book tour is well within the law. ”We were very careful to follow every legal guideline,” said spokesman Zac Petkanas.. “This frivolous stunt by the Abbott campaign is the clearest sign yet how worried they are about the power of Wendy’s story.”

Some advance copies of Davis’ memoir have already been released. The book reveals that Davis underwent two abortions for medical reasons during the 1990s. Davis launched into the national spotlight after her 13 hour filibuster to try to defeat stricter abortion laws in Texas, last legislative session. Davis said in an interview on ABC News Saturday that she did not bring up her own abortion story at the time because she did not want to overshadow the events of the day.

Van de Putte Fires First Shot in Lt. Gov. Ad War

Lt. Gov. candidate Leticia Van de Putte is focusing on education reforms in her first statewide TV ad. The 30-second spot touts Van de Putte’s Senate vote against education cuts during the 2011 legislative session and her bipartisan efforts to restore some of the funding in 2013.

The ad is critical of her Republican opponent Dan Patrick’s nay votes during both sessions. “If education isn’t your priority,” she said, “You’re not prepared to lead Texas.”

The ads will air in both English and Spanish.

Candidates for Governor Settle on New Statewide Debate

After a week of back and forth, the candidates for governor have finally settled on a statewide televised debate in Dallas. Sen. Wendy Davis confirmed Wednesday that she will participate in a KERA/KXAS-TV debate on Sept. 30.

Sen. Davis and Attorney General Greg Abbott were initially scheduled to take part in a WFAA-TV debate scheduled for that same day. Friday, however, the Abbott campaign backed out, citing a dispute over the proposed round-table format. Instead, he proposed an alternative statewide televised debate on KERA/KXAS-TV; an offer the campaign had initially declined.

In a statement Wednesday, Davis campaign spokesman Zac Petkanas said:
“After a conversation with KERA this morning, we have agreed to a debate format that should give Greg Abbott the confidence he needs after his multiple losses in the courtroom over the past week. However, no debate rules will protect Greg Abbott from having to explain the $5.4 billion in public education cuts he’s defended, siding with a corporation against a rape victim and allowing his donors to make off with tens of million of dollars meant for cancer research.”

Davis’ concession comes after days of debating over debate formats and disagreements over which station would sponsor the forum. Yesterday, Davis announced that she would be willing to reconsider WFAA’s proposed round-table format. Abbott refused to return to the negotiating table, saying he’d already made a new commitment to KERA.

Both candidates have also agreed to a September 19 debate in the Rio Grande Valley. That debate will be seen on Sinclair stations in major markets across Texas, with the exception of Dallas and Houston.

Gubernatorial Debate Debate Continues, Candidates Unable to Agree

Updated with Sen. Wendy Davis Response:

The candidates for governor are still sparring over the format and sponsor for a September 30 debate. Democrat Wendy Davis announced today that she would be willing concede to a change in the debate format for the originally agreed upon WFAA-TV sponsored debate.

Last week, Republican Greg Abbott backed out of the round-table match-up, citing a disagreement over formatting. Instead, he proposed an alternative statewide televised debate on KERA/KXAS-TV. Abbott had previously turned down that offer, but changed his mind on Friday.

Tuesday, the Davis campaign released a statement saying they would be willing to reconsider. “We have spoken with WFAA this afternoon and expressed our willingness to alter the previously agreed upon debate format to accommodate the Abbott campaign’s concerns about the lack of timed responses,” said campaign spokesman Zac Petkanas.

The Abbott campaign, however, says it will not return to the negotiating table. ”Greg Abbott is and has been ready, willing and eager to participate in two statewide debates,” campaign manager Wayne Hamilton said. “Only after losing the debate to other outlets did WFAA ask for and receive permission from the Davis campaign to restructure the debate – something they could have done three months ago or even three days ago.”

Update:

Davis is leaving the door open to the possibility of the alternate debate, however the campaign is critical of Abbott’s refusal to participate in a format with looser restrictions. In a statement, spokesman Zac Petkanas said:

“If Greg Abbott isn’t tough enough to handle a roundtable discussion in front of a statewide audience, it’s hard to see how he’s tough enough to be Governor of Texas. However, the fact that Greg Abbott isn’t willing to keep his word shouldn’t deprive voters of the chance to see both candidates debate issues like his defense of $5.4 billion in public education cuts.  In that spirit, we will open discussions with KERA tomorrow regarding the possibility of a debate.”

Attorney General Abbott says he will still take part in the KERA/KXAS-TV debate. Both candidates have also agreed to a September 19 debate in the Rio Grande Valley. That debate will be seen on Sinclair stations across Texas.